Happy Harvest 2010
January 1, 1970Halloween: feast of ancestors
I’ve always found it interesting that Halloween comes right around election time in America. On the Celtic feast of our ancestors, don’t neglect to honor the men who established this visionary democracy, and the women who fought to have suffrage extended. Voting is a privilege denied so many people in this world. Make time to vote!
This is always a special time for gardeners, when our spring and summer efforts are rewarded. I have a personal rule that I cannot crack a seed catalog until January 1, so from the end of harvest until the moment I begin dreaming of the new garden—you know, the perfect one!—I take a rest. It’s a wonderful time of year.
As Halloween nears, I find myself assessing the vagaries of this unique, once-only garden season. Who knew, when spring was so amazingly full of flowers, that a sudden mid-May frost would nip the apple blossoms, so that we only have a precious six half-gallons of cider in our freezer? Who could have predicted a summer of such heat and rain that our baby orchard trees thought they were living in the tropics and grew as much as four feet in one season? Who knew that the two rows of cucumbers we planted, because one row never seems to be enough, would produce so much fruit that we have a couple of shelves of what I call End Times Pickles (“enough pickles until the end of time”)? Who knew that the row of broccoli that never bloomed was really Brussels sprouts? (Well, the last we should have known about, but in the frenzy of planting, that one slipped by.)
One of my favorite memories of the summer is an event that I did not actually witness but was related to me. For the last several years, we’ve had a potato-harvesting ritual for Lughnasa, the Celtic harvest feast on Aug. 1. This year, my friend Janet brought her darling grandson Brandon, who is about 2. He ran around like a delighted bunny throughout the weekend, and I wasn’t even sure he’d noticed the potato part! But a few weeks later, Janet was at dinner with Brandon and his dad. When dinner was served, it included French fries. Brandon looked up and said sagely to his dad, “French fries are potatoes. Potatoes grow in the ground. I picked a potato.” He then discoursed knowledgeably about peaches, raspberries and other produce. Never underestimate the ability of nature to grab the attention of children!
It was a good summer. The gardens are fairly well established now at our farm, Brigit Rest, and so we turned our attention to the forests. Two hundred years ago, our region would have been oak savannah, with clumps of oaks and hickories separated by wild waving grasses. But such landscape demands fire. With the coming of roads and with related fire suppression, vast acres of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle have begun to strangle the native forests. This year, we devoted our time to freeing some lovely groves from choking underbrush. With the help of sturdy young helpers (yay Nathaniel, Ben and Sam), we cleared several grand “rooms” of oaks, and a fabulous butternut grove that is hung with wind chimes to form our Wind Chamber. We now have walking trails where just six months ago there was impassable underbrush. We hope to keep some of them open for either skiing or walking through the winter. We shall see! But for now, we are offering up thanks for a wonderful summer in garden and forest.
Breaking publishing news
I am blessed with having wonderful friends in the publishing world, who have supported my work for many years. And I’m delighted that several of those friendly editors have approached me to do revisions of earlier books. A new Magical Gardens: Myth, Mulch and Marigolds will come out again next year from Llewellyn. A new edition of Meditation: The Complete Guide (probably with a new subtitle; co-authored with the estimable Teri Viereck) will come out from New World Library, also in 2011. And, perhaps most exciting, I’m talking with a publisher about the prospects of bringing out a new edition of O Mother Sun. This last is especially exciting because the book, which took 15 years to write, was only in print for six months before the publisher died and the publishing house went in another direction. I’m excited to get to work on all these.
And, to my great delight, New Leaf Distributing has taken on two titles that have been unavailable for several years: my book of poems, Seasons of the Witch, and one of stories of girl goddesses, Wild Girls: The Path of the Young Goddess. New Leaf does not handle individual orders, but these books can now be ordered through bookstores and, within a few weeks, through online booksellers as well. Yay!
Meanwhile, I am working away at my satirical novel, which is more fun than a barrel o’ moose (hint at setting). Learning a lot as I go!
Voices from the American Land
My chapbook of poetry about our farm in the Driftless Area, “The Grace of Ancient Land,” will be available in November from Voices from the American Land:
This project is unusual, in that it is aimed at raising consciousness about the beautiful regions of America, rather than being a traditional publishing company. Distributing the poetry to raise environmental and cultural awareness, rather than selling it, is the project’s aim!
Thus, if you’d like to have a reading from the book where everyone who attends get a free copy of the book, contact me. I’ll be doing readings and presentations throughout the winter, which will be listed on my website as they are set up:
Come enjoy hearing about the Driftless Area, or let me know if you’d like to set up a reading through bookstore or organization.
Support for Brigit Centre
On our annual trip to Ireland this year, we visited with our friends, the Brigidine Sisters Mary and Phil, at Solas Bhríde in Kildare. We were thrilled to have a chance to view the fabulous plan they have for building a green hermitage and center in honor of Brigit:
The good sisters have raised enough that the land is now purchased and the plans drawn up. Now they are raising funds to build the center, which has been designed in the form of a Brigit cross and will include small self-catering hermitages for people who wish to stay on retreat there. We left our own donations and encourage others to contribute to this wonderful project.
While in Kildare we also visited the restored well and fire temple. Kildare is a fantastic center of Celtic spirituality. The sisters welcome people of any faith and are very comfortable acknowledging that Brigit was a goddess before she was a saint. She was a saint before the Reformation, meaning that both Catholics and Protestants can honor her. She is a bridge figure, something we desperately need in these days of so much separation and hated.